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Alabama partners unite to prepare Walker County, Jasper students for tech careers

Students in Walker County will now have the opportunity to gain greater experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, thanks to a new partnership announced by Bevill State Community College.

Bevill State officials today unveiled the STEM22 program, supported by the Alabama Power Foundation and the Walker Area Community Foundation. The program is directed toward students at Walker County Schools and Jasper City Schools.

Officials said STEM22 will provide a seamless pathway for students to Bevill State for education and training that can prepare them for the future workforce.

“Partnerships are vital to any successful initiative. Bevill State is fortunate to have strong, longstanding relationships with the Alabama Power Foundation, Walker County Schools, Jasper City Schools and the Walker Area Community Foundation,” said Bevill State President Joel Hagood. “Working together, we are going to be able to provide some outstanding STEM opportunities to students in Walker County.”

According to a news release about the project, the goal is to help build a career-ready workforce in the area that will attract businesses and industries in the information technology and robotics/automation space. Starting in middle school, all students in Walker County Schools and Jasper City Schools will have access to “hands-on, minds-on” STEM learning and opportunities to create something with technology. The program will continue into high school, offering dual-enrollment course selections at Bevill State driven by pathways chosen by the students. Those pathways include coding, robotics, engineering and app development.

“We are proud to support efforts that continue the enhancement of education and workforce development in our communities,” said Mark Crews, Alabama Power Western Division vice president. “Alabama’s future workforce will rely heavily on technology, and we feel that the STEM22 project will provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills and training to attract new and existing businesses with jobs in information technology and automation.”

Paul Kennedy, Walker Area Community Foundation president, said that Alabama’s future “depends on our vision today for our children’s future. This unique partnership is one bold step in the right direction toward that future.

“Jasper and Walker County are uniquely situated to grow alongside our metro areas to the east in Birmingham, to the south in Tuscaloosa and to the north in Huntsville,” Kennedy added. “We are especially excited to be exposing our children at the youngest age possible to the broadest array of opportunities.”

Bevill State has supported robotics competitions at several local schools, which helped identify the interest for nurturing STEM-related careers among students. The STEM22 program will support the institution’s efforts to offer enhanced learning opportunities through a more robust curriculum. The program is expected to launch during the 2022-2023 school year in both Walker County and Jasper schools.

“Our mission is to educate students in a supportive environment that equips them to be successful in today’s society,” said Walker County Schools Superintendent Dennis Willingham. “We believe that the STEM22 project will prepare students, increase interest and offer exposure to become a ready workforce in our community for future careers.”

Ann Jackson, Jasper City Schools superintendent, added, “As educators, it is our responsibility to prepare our students for careers that align with modern industry trends. We are thankful for the partnership of Bevill State Community College, the Alabama Power Foundation and the Walker Area Community Foundation and recognize their commitment to our students. We truly believe that this program will create more opportunities for our students to be successful.”

Learn more about Bevill State Community College here. To learn more about the Alabama Power Foundation, visit powerofgood.com. To learn more about the Walker Area Community Foundation, visit wacf.org.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

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